Rio 2016 Memorable Images

No. 3 - 21st August 2016

Apart from the joy and excitement of the Olympic Games, my favourite image has to be the view of Rio de Janeiro at sunset, looking down over the bay, with the tropical rainforest, the beautiful white beaches and the funny little mountains like something out of a child’s painting. And nestling in the middle is the whole city of Rio, with its Olympic stadium.

Towering over this scene is the spectacular, 30 metre high statue of Christ the Redeemer with his arms stretched out to embrace the city and all its people.

The concept of a Redeemer or redemption comes from a background of slavery. Our minds go back to British involvement in the slave trade, but it’s been around for a lot longer than that. In the Roman Empire at the time of Christ, the slave market was just a fact of life. It’s been estimated that in the whole of Italy, about 35 – 40% of the population were slaves. A child, sold into slavery at that time had a life expectancy of just seventeen and a half years. We can hardly imagine it.

Now to buy someone out of their slavery was to redeem them, and the one who paid for buying their freedom was called the redeemer.

So, Christ the Redeemer is one who buys back from slavery, or buys our freedom. Not physical slavery, but spiritual, mental and emotional slavery. I’m sure we all know what it means to be a slave to something – whether it’s guilt and despair, or irritability and a bad temper. There are so many things in life that we would love to be able to just shake off, but they’re completely beyond our control. The real live Christ the Redeemer has already bought us our freedom by giving his own life. Freedom from guilt and condemnation. Freedom from fear. Freedom from all those things that stop us from being the person God created us to be. I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want such a freedom.

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